The New York Islanders won their fourth-straight game as they topped the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in overtime at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 19. Brock Nelson scored the game-winner 33 seconds into OT.
Mathew Barzal and Michael Dal Colle scored in regulation for the Islanders, while Thomas Greiss made 34 saves in the win. Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier had a team-high two points (1G, 1A) each.
"There's going to be times when teams are pushing, but you've just got to weather it," Nelson said. "We had good goaltending today. We were slipping a bit in the second, in the third we fell flat and they pressed. We found a way, got our game back a little bit and grabbed the win in overtime."
Video: Nelson's OT goal lifts Islanders past Blue Jackets
While the Isles closed out their first multi-game road trip of the season on Saturday night, the Blue Jackets were on their third set of back-to-backs this month, including a trip to OT on Friday night in Chicago. The fatigue didn't show in the Blue Jackets' play, as they dominated the Isles at times, but the Islanders remained resilient and pulled out yet another character win.
"This is a good league and there's not much separating anybody," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "You've got to weather storms and they had a real good push. They had a couple of real quick chances and we reeled it in and had the chance to survive. Your goaltender gives you a chance to survive and I thought Greisser was really good.".
Barzal opened up scoring for the evening as he forced a turnover to score his fourth goal of the season and extend his goal streak to three games. Tied 1-1, Dal Colle buried his first goal of the season with four-minutes remaining in the first period to give the Isles a 2-1 lead, but Boone Jenner's second period goal tied the score 2-2.
The Blue Jackets came out flying in the third period, outshooting the Isles 7-0 early on. Columbus had a pair of close calls, as Cam Atkinson rang a shot off the post and Greiss made a highlight reel save to pull a puck off the line shortly after, which warranted Trotz to use his timeout. Trotz was lively in addressing his team during the timeout, but the break in action helped level the Isles out, as they outshot the Blue Jackets 12-9 the rest of the period, ultimately taking the game to OT.
"It shows resilience," Trotz said. "I didn't like some of our responses earlier. You can't be casual with the puck or overextend shifts. It just wasn't sharp. They were coming, but that's what good teams do; they weather the storms and battle back."
Brock Nelson had a team-high two points (1G, 1A) against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, as the 28-year-old center is tied with Barzal and Josh Bailey for a team-high six points (4G, 2A) through eight games this season. During the month of October, Nelson has a career showing of 27 goals and 24 assists in 68 October games.
With the absence of Casey Cizikas, who is out with a lower-body injury, Nelson has stepped up on the penalty kill, and is taking additional - and clutch - faceoffs, as well as playing an increased shutdown role and starting every period. Nelson logged the highest time-on-ice among forwards at 20:48, and was 47% (8-of-17) on faceoffs.
"It's the player that I envisioned he would be," Trotz said. "[I] gave him that responsibility last year. He's just grown into the responsibility. He's a key player for us. Lately, he's had to take on the full matchup for most nights. In the past, I've used Casey and Brock in those [clutch] situations. He's had to take on a bigger role with Casey out of the lineup."
COLE BARDREAU MAKES NHL DEBUT:
Cole Bardreau was interrupted while eating his pre-game meal in Bridgeport when he received an urgent call from Bridgeport Head Coach Brett Thompson that he would be taking the next flight out of JFK airport out to Columbus to make his NHL debut. Bardreau showed up to Nationwide Arena just in time to throw his gear on and partake in the tradition of taking a solo lap for warmups.
"I didn't have time to think or worry about anything or play scenarios in my head," Bardreau said. "I just threw my stuff on, went out here and played...I was glad to get the win first and foremost. It was a pretty emotional experience. Especially taking that first lap out there by myself was pretty emotional."
The 26-year-old center was recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after Leo Komarov - who was already covering fourth-line center duties for Cizikas - fell ill after the team's morning skate. With Komarov out and Jordan Eberle (undisclosed injury) placed on IR, the Isles looked to Bardreau to play a similar energetic and relentless style to that of Cizikas. Bardreau, who wore no. 34, logged 8:54 with three hits, and skated on the fourth line alongside Matt Martin - who returned to the lineup after being scratched for three games - and Cal Clutterbuck.
Bardreau, a native of Fairport, New York, played four years at Cornell University and posted 53 points (18G, 35A) in 103 games for the Big Red. On March 12, 2015, he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers. Bardreau played five seasons with the Flyers AHL affiliate the Lehigh Valley Phantoms before signing with the Islanders as a free agent on July 2. In 230 career AHL games, Bardreau has registered 98 points (41 goals, 57 assists).
Video: NYI@CBJ: Barzal shows off his speed and scores
SORTING OUT STARTS:
Coming out hot out of the gate has been an area of weakness for the Islanders. In eight games, the Isles have been outscored 9-5 in the first period, but have managed to remain composed and find a way to pull out a win. On Saturday, the Isles had a strong first period showing. Oliver Wahlstrom struck iron with a snipe from the slot in the first two minutes and not long after, Barzal would put the Isles on the board, beating Joonas Korpisalo five-hole after a long-range feed from Adam Pelech.
While it seemed, the Islanders had turned the page, the progress was short lived. Seth Jones beat Greiss with a snipe from the left faceoff circle just over midway in the first period, though Dal Colle restored the lead before the end of the frame.
Video: NYI@CBJ: Greiss reaches back to prevent a goal
GREISS STANDS TALL:
Greiss received his fourth starting nod and played in his fifth game of the season. When Columbus amplified their pressure and tested Greiss plenty around his crease, he bailed the Isles out and kept them in the game.
The 33-year-old netminder had to make an acrobatic dive backwards in the third period as he threw out his arm to prevent a loose puck from crossing the goal line.
"[Greiss] was huge," Nelson said. "They came at us hard. They were throwing pucks at the top, trying to circle and get pucks moving. Greiss had to some big saves and helped turn the tide. We needed that."
The Islanders have a bit of a break before hosting Arizona at NYCB Live on Oct. 24.
Video: NYI 3 vs CBJ 2 (OT) : Barry Trotz
Video: NYI 3 vs CBJ 2 (OT) : Brock Nelson
Video: NYI 3 vs CBJ 2 (OT) : Cole Bardreau
Video: NYI 3 vs CBJ 2 (OT): Dal Colle